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When Will We Win the Race for More?

When Will We Win the Race for More?

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

I remember it was around this time of year in 2018 when I began to feel God pulling me toward something different.

The something different was not more. In fact, it was something less. At that point in my life, I had what I considered the dream job, working full-time at a church that I loved, doing compelling ministry in ways that brought out so many wonderful qualities and gifts. However, there was something else that I had not addressed. Personally and even culturally, there was a machine that was constantly grinding and driving us for more.

At first, I thought it was just the church. And then, years later, I would discover it was me as well. This discontentment, this chasing for the next mountain, the next level of impact and success, would be something that I am still wrestling with to this day.

Tonight, in our micro-church gathering called Beats, Bars, and Bible, we looked at Ecclesiastes chapter 2. And I was reminded yet again that the quest, the fruitless quest for more, is part of the broken human condition that began with the original sin.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had so many of the blessings that God had intended. He created a paradise for them. And yet, they were introduced to discontent, and they began to strive for more. Just one fruit more was the catalyst for this downward spiral that the human race has battled with ever since.

As creatives, I wonder the impact that this quest, this chase for more, can have. We must be careful that even the next creative idea doesn’t simply become another example of us simply chasing more.

So it sounds like things are hopeless. It sounds like this is just who we are. Except Solomon also lets us know the answer as well as the problem. It is chasing God that is the only fulfilling pursuit. In our chasing of God, He will again and again fill us up, strengthen us, hold us close, and walk us to the next thing that He wants us to accomplish.

But if we simply go chasing accomplishment, chasing impact, chasing pursuit after pursuit in this machine of more and more and more, we end up grinding up the spirit on the altar of our flesh. So, in the same way that God challenged me tonight and that God has challenged me over the past few years, let us now stop and reflect on our current pursuits.

Wherein are our pursuits not with God? If God is not accompanying you on this pursuit, it is one that He would be calling you to abandon. First and foremost, let us pursue the Father by way of the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then let Him accompany us in whatever journey He would have us take, using our creative endeavors to bring Him glory.

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Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” – Martin Luther

Having a wild, creative nature is a beautiful thing. Consider icons like Frida Kahlo or Pablo Picasso. These individuals embodied a wildly creative mindset. But I wonder, to what degree did they have to develop leadership for that creativity to get the most out of it?

Imagine if Steve Jobs never focused on developing the iPod, or if Einstein never honed his thoughts on relativity. What if Frida never dedicated herself specifically to her craft with her brush?

I believe our most impactful creative works lie on the other side of our most intentional decisions regarding our creative thoughts. It is through this thought work—this warfare on the battlefield of our mind—that we achieve victory. Jesus reminds us that we can hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

This is the heart of meditation that I am drawn to—not necessarily the act of emptying your mind, but the act of deciding what your mind will dwell on. Many Eastern and New Age meditations talk about an emptiness of mind during meditation. However, as I explored these practices to quiet my mind, I realized that the actual work involves focusing my mind on specific things. Instead of dwelling on random thoughts, my mind focuses on the environment and being present, rather than on the thoughts that tend to occupy it.

This realization has shown me that meditation is not about emptiness, but about fullness. It’s about what your mind is filled with. What your mind is filled with in each moment determines your focus. That focus, that mental dwelling, is what you are giving your peace, your heart, and in many senses, your future.

Instead of trying to keep my mind empty for peace, I want to dwell, focus on, and stay filled with Christ and the thoughts He would have me meditate on. To chew on, to ruminate over, to remain abiding and dwelling in Him for all of my days.

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What Is the Soul of Our Work?

What Is the Soul of Our Work?

The more I write for this blog, the more I’m discovering one of the core themes that God has given me to speak on.

The Soul of Our Work

In this day and age of technological advancements, text messages, emails, and even blogs like this can sometimes feel like they are diminished replacements for the real heart of real genuine connection. Now, I know that the written word can carry more than its value on its face. God’s word itself is inhabited by God’s Spirit. And I believe, in a similar way as we work, as we create, as we write, that our soul imprints on the work to which we put our hands. While I feel like this may be an avant-garde thought to many today, I believe in 5-10 years people will definitely recognize this to be true. Even though authenticity is a buzzword in most circles today, it will become the only real currency in the days ahead. As deepfakes increase, as the truth and reality become so watered down, augmented, or twisted that they are unrecognizable as such, more and more we will crave something real. Something NON-FUNGIBLE.

It will be harder and harder to spot the real thing from a shelf filled with fugazi, but there will be at least one distinguishable feature for those with clear eyes and full hearts hungering for the authentic. It won’t be visible from the average vantage point, but only upon closer inspection. It’s when one engages with the work looking for impact, that one will find a clearly present or missing ingredient… soul. It is the soul of the work that touches the soul of the beholder.  The outside can look great, but it’s what’s inside, the soul that makes the difference. Jesus said it this way when speaking to his religious opponents…

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28 NIV

While hanging outside with my wife and son, we discovered a problem with one of his shoes. Despite in what great condition the top and design-heavy portion of his shoe was, we found aSOUL OF OUR WORK 1 hole in the bottom which meant they needed replacing sooner than later. At that moment I heard myself say,

“It doesn’t matter how great it looks when there is a hole in the sole.”

WHOA. That’s it, isn’t it? There is a truth for life, for art. Not a truth about the sole, but the soul. It’s the thing that matters when all is said and done in our life on earth. The state of our soul is the most important biblical question, but the most important question in our creativity might be similar…what’s the soul of our work?

I think we should all check to make sure we don’t have holes in the soul of our work where the real impact we genuinely want is threatening to seep out.

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